Botanical name: 

Abrus. Abri Semina. Jequirity. Prayer Beads. Abrus Seeds. Abrus precatorius L. (Fam. Leguminosae.)—The seeds of this plant, which grows in India and also in Brazil, are employed in India as a standard weight by druggists and jewelers, and also for criminal poisoning. The seeds are ovoid, from 5 to 8 mm. in length, smooth, shiny and of a bright scarlet, having a black marking at the lower, or hilum, portion. They are said to be inert when taken whole into the stomach. They contain abric acid, C21H24N3O, and, according to the researches of Sidney Martin (P. J., Sept., 1887; Proc. Roy. Soc., 1889, vol. xlvi), two proteid poisons, a paraglobulin and an albumose (together called abrin), which are almost identical in their physiological properties with principles found in snake venom, although less powerful. According to Flexner, the toxic action of these substances also closely resembles that of true toxins, the most characteristic result being focal necroses in various organs. Flexner suggests that these in turn are due to a lesion in the blood-vessel walls caused by the abrin. (J. Ex. M., 1897, vol. ii.) The ordinary lethal dose of abrin for animals is said to be 0.00001 Gm. per kilo of weight. (Consult The Non-Bacillous Nature of Abrus Poisoning, J. H. Warden and L. A. Waddel, Calcutta, 1884; Bufalini, Ann. di Chim. e di Farm., No. 2, 1886; Kobert, W. M. Bl., Nov., 1889.) The root of Abrus, known as Indian liquorice, possesses toxic properties like the seeds and should not be used in place of licorice. According to David Hooper, it contains glycyrrhizin. (P. J., 1894.) Abrin is used in the treatment of certain chronic diseases of the eye, especially in corneal opacities, and trachomatous pannus. It excites a purulent inflammation of the conjunctiva, which appears to lead to an increase in the local circulation, provoking thereby an absorption of inflammatory exudates. The remedy is capable of great harm in unsuitable cases, and extreme caution must be employed in its use. The infusion of jequirity, which was formerly employed for this purpose, has been almost abandoned because it was liable to cause an uncontrollable inflammation which in some instances has entirely destroyed vision. The infusion of the crude drug was employed in strengths of from 2 to 20 per cent., which must be prepared at a temperature below 50° C. (112° F.). According to Ehrlich, the solution of abrin should not be stronger than one part in 500,000; any increase of strength must be made with great care. Both Ehrlich and Calmette succeeded in immunizing rabbits against abrin, and obtained an antitoxic serum. P. Romer (Graefe's Archiv. f. Ophthal., vol. lit, 1901) has introduced two preparations: jequiritol, an abrin solution, sterilized, of four different strengths; jequiritol serum, which, as commercially supplied, has such immunizing power that 0.1 mil suffices to protect a white mouse from the effects of a hundredfold lethal dose of jequiritol when the latter and jequiritol serum are injected con jointly. (For details and methods of use, see Th. M., May, 1902; M. R., 1902; Kattwinkel, Jequiritol, Bonn, 1902; Seefelder, Klinische monatsblätter, 1905, p. 273; Schoen, Hospitalstidende, No. 37, p. 921.)

The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.